The City of Newark has issued a Request for Qualifications for artists interested in being considered to design a permanent public monument of Harriet Tubman in Washington Park, which will be renamed Tubman Square.
The monument will replace the statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed this summer. Columbus’ statue was taken down amid the nation’s racial reckoning after the police killing of Black, unarmed George Floyd in Minneapolis. Statues of controversial historical figures across the nation were being forcibly taken down by protesters. The statue was put in storage along with another Columbus statue in Newark. The downtown Newark statue was placed in 1927, when there was a robust Italian-American community in the area at the time.
“Harriet Tubman is one of the greatest figures in American history generally and African American history specifically,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “Her courage, valor, activism and spirit of self-sacrifice made her a role model in times of civil unrest and the Civil War. She personally led runaway slaves through Newark, working with local abolitionists to hide them from slave-catchers in our churches. It is truly appropriate that we honor her with the commissioning of this monument.”
Between three and five finalists will be identified through the City of Newark’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs commissioning process, and will be given a stipend to develop a design proposal. The winning design will be chosen by a selection committee composed of art and design experts, historians and community stakeholders led by Arts and Cultural Affairs Director fayemi shakur.
“The monument represents a step toward fostering a more diverse and inclusive public art collection for the City of Newark,” said shakur.
Community residents and sponsoring organizations can also contribute to the monument by making donations through Newark Arts, the local arts council that will serve as the fiscal sponsor of the project. Donations of any amount are also welcomed and contributors will be publicly recognized; donations of $1,000 or above will include a naming opportunity to be determined as the design for the monument is developed.
The project budget is estimated at $300,000 and will include all project costs, artist’s fees, design services, community engagement, site preparation, engineering, fabrication, travel, transportation of the work to the site, insurance, permits, installation, documentation of the artwork and contingency.
Submissions must be made online by going to cityofnewark-arts.submittable.com/submit. Submissions must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18.